Manipulation and Affirmation

My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

I’ve been realizing lately just what an expert I am at manipulation.

I assure you, this is not a skill I intentionally cultivated. It just kinda seemed to happen… It’s freaking me out a little bit, actually. Realizing that not only do I have this skill, but apparently I use it a lot, and I’m darned good at it, too. Yikes.

In the past, I never would have considered myself a manipulative person, because I am not a super controlling person. And in my mind, someone who is manipulative is also controlling. They manipulate a situation so that they can be in control.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve never been guilty of doing that, but I don’t think that type of manipulation is a habit for me (I hope not, anyway…).

There’s another reason for manipulation that I hadn’t thought of before, though:

Affirmation.

That’s the one that’s a biggie for me.

You know, I have never taken compliments well.

For years, whenever anyone said anything nice to or about me, my immediate reaction has been to dismiss them –

“Oh, please. You’re being ridiculous. Good grief! Seriously?? Enough already! I know better than that! STOP BEING NICE!! I MEAN IT!!!”

I’m really not exaggerating much there. Add some serious eye rolling, and you’ve pretty much got my reaction to any compliment.

Here’s the thing, though – that reaction is my way of manipulating the situation!

I just realized this the other day, and it irked me to no end. Doggone it, you mean I have to actually start believing people when they compliment me?? Good grief!

All my life that reaction has been my way of saying “No, you can’t be right. I am not _____ (fill in the blank: talented, pretty, adorable, a good cook, whatever). I’m not valuable. I am not worthy of love or affirmation. I don’t believe that what you say is true. But please tell me I’m wrong! Please affirm me! Please tell me I really am valuable!!”

I wanted the person to force the compliment on me. To insist that it was true. Otherwise I couldn’t bring myself to believe it.

It’s manipulation.

It’s also a cry for affirmation and love.

But it was a cry to the wrong source.

No human is capable of meeting my need for affirmation – especially seeing as I refuse to believe the affirmation they do give!

However, God offers all the affirmation I could ever want or need. As much as I ever want or need – it’s there for the taking.

And that’s just the issue: It’s there for the taking. It’s not being forced on me.

God does not insist that I believe him. He leaves that choice to me.

He asks that I accept his love and affirmation, but he does not insist I accept it. He asks that I believe he is being truthful about my value, but he does not insist I believe his sincerity.

And I can only imagine how painful it must be for him to watch me. To see me so desperately craving that affirmation and love that he is so desperately trying to give to me, and yet refusing to believe him. Continuing to live as though I am worthless and unlovable simply because I can’t bring myself to believe what he’s telling me.

God knows force doesn’t work. I can’t manipulate God into insisting I believe him. I have to choose to believe him.

So he just keeps reminding me what he thinks, and hoping that someday I’ll actually trust that what he says is true. He keeps hoping I’ll choose to believe that he means what he says, and begin to embrace and accept his unconditional love and affirmation.

Instead, I just keep cranking up the manipulation. Looking to human sources for affirmation and love. It gets me nowhere.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with human love and affirmation. But if humans are my primary source of affirmation, I will never be satisfied. I’ll end up resorting to manipulation in my attempt to feel valued and loved.

Methinks it’s time to give up the manipulation.

It’s time to stop fighting, and just believe what God is telling me.

It’s time to accept God’s love and affirmation.

It’s time to trust his sincerity, and allow myself to be valued and cherished.

And the icing on the cake is if I do that, it then frees me to accept human love and affirmation as well.

If I’m not constantly trying to manipulate others into giving me more and more love and affirmation, I will be able to simply accept and appreciate what they do give me as the precious gift that it is, without always having to beg for more.

Yeah, I guess this does mean I have to re-think my reaction to compliments… Looks like I’m gonna have to take a friend’s advice to be more appreciative, smile, and just say “thank you.”

And believe that they mean what they’re saying. Because, honestly, most compliments are meant sincerely.

Why is that such a “revelation” to me??

I’m afraid I’ve still got a long ways to go with all this…

Love, N.

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